Is Yoga Really So Glamorous?

One photographer's project shows the sweaty, messy, and uncomfortable side of yoga.

Jonah Sargent/Faces of Yoga

In recent years, many of us have turned to yoga as both an exercise and a form of meditation. Everyone who does it knows it’s both physically and mentally demanding. But that’s not really how its portrayed.

Think of any recent picture in the media of someone doing yoga. A person, lithe yet muscular, sits contorted, ankles somewhere by their shoulders, smiling serenely all the while. It’s unrealistic, to say the least.

Yoga lover Jonah Sargent wants to change that with his photo project, Faces of Yoga.

Sargent was motivated to start the project in large part by his time working as a cleaner at a large yoga studio in Minnesota.

“One day a woman came in and bought nearly $500 of yoga clothing because the yoga instructor was telling her she looked sexy in it. During class the instructor kept complimenting her, and the yogi kept looking in the mirror and readjusting to look more picturesque. It all just made me feel like there was something funny with the glamorization of this ancient discipline,” Sargent told Mashable.

Faces of Yoga features photos of dozens of practitioners in variety of poses and physical states. They are sweaty and uncomfortable, sporting a host of different, yet equally pained expressions.

“The series is a reminder that we all look horrible when we do yoga. So we should immerse ourselves in it and forget the rest,” said Sargent in the Kickstarter video for the Faces of Yoga coffee table book.

You can find Sargent’s pictures on the Faces of Yoga Instagram page. The project’s coffee table book is due out soon.

If you feel the urge to do some yoga, here’s a simple yoga practice from our October 2015 issue of Mindful magazine, Rise up, Tune in.